- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) - A longtime Black Hills State University psychology professor has pledged $1 million to the Spearfish school.

James Hess, 63, said the money will establish the Make a Difference Initiative. The program will provide scholarships to students who create community projects designed to make a difference in the lives of others.

“I really wanted somehow to make a difference,” Hess said. “I wanted to set something up that would have them give back to society not only when they were a student, but would hopefully change their culture so that they would always want to give back.”

Hess is chairman of the university’s School of Behavioral Sciences and also owns several area businesses. He’s been at the school for 32 years, and said the $1 million donation equals the total of his university salary his first 19 years of teaching.

The first two $2,500 scholarships will be awarded next year. They each will come with an additional $2,500 that students can use for their projects.

“I want the project to do something more than just be cash money that you give out and then it’s gone,” Hess said. “The students, I have no doubt, can creatively come up with that.”

University President Tom Jackson Jr. called Hess’s idea “visionary” and said it “ensures our graduates will become leaders in their future communities.”

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